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SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY.

Old Belarius.

Oh, this life Is nobler, than attending for a check ;t Richer, than doing nothing for a babe; Prouder, than rustling in unpaid-for silk : Such gain the cap of him that makes them fine, Yet keeps his book uncrossed. No life to ours ! Guiderius. Out of your proof you speak; we, poor un

fledg'd, Have never wing'd from view o' the nest, nor know not What air's from home. Haply, this life is best, If quiet life be best: sweeter to you, That have a sharper known; well corresponding With your stiff age ; but, unto us, it is A cell of ignorance; travelling abed; A prison for a debtor, that not dares To stride a limit.

Cymbeline. Act iï. Scene 3.

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The subject of monachism is one of no small interest, but one that cannot very well be enlarged upon in these pages. I believe, however, the world is pretty well agreed, that man is a social animal, and not intended by Providence to live alone; and that a solitary life is neither favourable to his attainment of the highest knowledge, or the highest virtue, or the highest happiness.

* Meaning retired and solitary life. + Commentators have not settled the precise meaning of these two lines, but it is plain that the first alludes to the restraint of attending and guarding the great, and the second to the empty honours of court life.

S T U D I E S.

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY, ETC., ETC.

Biron. Why, universal plodding prisons up
The nimble spirits in the arteries ;
As motion, and long during action tires
The sinewy vigour of the traveller.

Love's Labour's lost. Act iv, Scene 3.

Tranio.

While we do admire
This virtue, and this moral dicipline,
Let's be no Stoics, nor no stocks, I pray ;
Or so devote to Aristotle's checks,
As Ovid be an outcast quite abjur'd:
Talk logic with acquaintance that you have,
And practice rhetoric in your common talk ;
Music and poesy use to quicken you ;
The mathematics, and the metaphysics,
Fall to them, as you find your stomach serves you:
No profit grows, where is no pleasure ta’en ;-
In brief, Sir, study what you most affect.*

Taming of the Shrew. Act i. Scene 1.

Man has not yet learnt wisdom on this subject, either from proverbs or experience. He still sees the necessity of giving his body food and repose, but still continues to tax the powers of the mind as if they needed no relaxation or nourishment. How many a noble intellect do we see in miserable ruins for want of such precaution !

"Affect" here means," have a liking or disposition for."

SU P E R S T I TION.

GHOSTS.

Antigonus. I have heard (but not believ'd) the spirits of

the dead May walk again.

Winter's Tale. Act iii. Scene 3.

OMENS.

Glendower.

At my nativity,
The front of heaven was full of fiery shapes,
Of burning cressets; and, at my birth,
The frame and huge foundation of the earth
Shak'd like a coward.

Hotspur. Why, so it would have done
At the same season, if your mother's cat had
But kitten'd, though yourself had ne'er been born.
Glendower. I say, the earth did shake when I was born.

I Hotspur, And I the earth was not of my mind, If you suppose, as fearing you it shook. Glendower. The heavens were all on fire, the earth did

tremble. Hotspur. Oh, then the earth shook to see the heavens on

fire,
And not in fear of your nativity.
Diseased nature oftentimes breaks forth
In strange eruptions; oft the teeming earth
Is with a kind of cholic pinch'd and vex'd

say,

By the imprisoning of unruly wind
Within her womb; which, for enlargement striving,
Shakes the old beldame earth, and topples down
Steeples and moss-grown towers.

1st part King Henry IV. Act iii. Scene 1.

MIRACLES.

Lafeu. They say miracles are past; yet* we have our philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless. Ilence is it, that we make trifles of terrors ; ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.

All's well that ends well. Act ii. Scene 3.

Archbishop of Canterbury. Miracles are ceas'd; And therefore we must needs admit the means, How things are perfected.

King Henry V. Act i. Scene 1.

SAAKSPERE’s superiority to the superstitious times in which he lived is absolutely amazing, especially when we consider that such a mind as Sir Matthew Hale's succumbed to them. Read the speech of Antigonus on ghosts, the reasoning of Hotspur on omens, the reflexion of Canterbury's archbishop on miracles, and then admire a genius that was centuries in advance of its own age.

* “And " in the text.

S U S PICIO N.

ITS READINESS OF DI VINATION.

Northumberland. See what a ready tongue suspicion hath! He that but fears the thing he would not know, Hath, by instinct, knowledge from others' eyes That what he fear'd is chanced.

2nd part King Henry IV. Act i. Scene 1.

SOMETIMES MISLEADS.

K. Henry VI. The bird that hath been limed in a bush, With trembling wings, misdoubteth every bush.

3rd part King Henry VI. Act v. Scene 6.

SUSPICION A VICE OF OLD AGE.

Polonius. It seems it is as proper to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions,*
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion.

Hamlet. Act ii. Scene 1.

SUSPICION EASILY EXCITED IN THE JEALOUS.

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Iago.

Trifles light as air,
Are, to the jealous, confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ.
Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons,
Which, at the first, are scarce found to distaste;
But with a little act upon the blood,
Burn like the mines of sulphur.

Othello. Act ii. Scene 3.

* Dr. Johnson observes, that men long accustomed to the wiles of life commouly “cast beyond themselves," that is to say, “let their cunning go farther than reason can attend it."

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